Treyarnon – in the tidal pool
“The pool was forty feet across and up to six feet deep., full of mussels, sea anemones, limpets, starfish and barnacles.”
Rested up after a day long drive and two late afternoon swims at Fowey and Helford, Molly and I make our way to north Cornwall. Despite schools being back, the beaches here are teeming, south west England collectively basking in the joys of an Indian summer. Motorhomes clog narrow lanes.
I look out for discarded swimwear and litter, the roadkill Roger claims these high–sided tanks leave dotted around the county. All I catch sight of is the floppy form of a rather unfortunate badger.
Parking up at Treyarnon campsite, we walk along the coast path, kids splashing in the rollers, surfers heading further to contemplate the swell, indulging neoprene dreams. The pool appears within minutes, halfway down the cliffs, spray flashing white at its far edges.
The tide is coming in and so we climb down at a canter, reaching the water’s edge and clumsily stripping off. There are plenty of fellow swimmers. One man takes long sweeping strokes up and down the middle, a snorkel allowing him to stay focused on the rocky bottom.
It appears he’s searching out a few mussels, but his wife pulls herself free and approaches as I’m making an ungainly change from boxers to bathers.
‘If you see a platinum wedding ring, can you take it to the police station at Padstow?’
The husband bobs up, all Roger Moore in ‘Live and Let Die’, huge goggles and a wetsuit tight across his chest. He looks exasperated. There’s no way he’ll be seeing the glint of precious metal in the pool now, waves lapping ever closer and threatening to overwhelm the still scene within minutes.
We grab our own snorkel and promise to help if we can. And with that we slide in. This is my first ever tidal pool dip and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s just flat enough to enjoy a swift few lengths of strident breaststroke, before star fishing face down in the middle, looking for wedding rings, but in fact hoping to catch a glimpse of a starfish proper.
One by one, other swimmers haul out, but we stay put. The sun is blazing now, and where Roger had rain, the only water we’re having to deal with is the salty stuff fizzing in from the Atlantic. It’s perfectly clear and completely different from our town swim in Fowey and the mystical greens of the Helford River. I find myself falling hopelessly in love with Cornwall and its myriad swimming options.
We emerge braced and giddy, the water racing to meet our bags as we tug on clothes and head up to a handy bench to take in the views. We witness one man proceed to dive head first into the pool, despite it now being inundated by the ocean. As we drink tea and plot our next move, the wind brings the opening bars of The Beach Boys’ Feel Flows from the nearby Youth Hostel cafe. It all adds to the breezy vibe, late summer taking on a tinge of SoCal as dogs paddle and kids slather their faces in clotted cream ices.